Netflix Nabs Sarah Polley Miniseries Based on Margaret Atwood True-Crime Novel

Sarah Polley Alias Grace
Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Netflix will soon be adding a historical true-crime drama to its queue.

The streaming service is teaming up with Halfire Entertainment and Canadian broadcaster CBC on the six-hour miniseries “Alias Grace,” based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name about convicted murderer Grace Marks.

The series is being written and produced by Sarah Polley (“Away From Her”), and directed by Mary Harron (“American Psycho”). “Alias Grace” will be broadcast in Canada on CBC and will stream globally on Netflix.

“Alias Grace” follows Grace Marks, a poor Irish immigrant and domestic servant living in Canada who, along with stable hand James McDermott, was convicted in 1843 of the murders of their employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. James was hanged while Grace was sentenced to life in prison. Marks became one of the most notorious women of 1840s Canada for her alleged role in the double murder, and was eventually exonerated after 30 years in jail.

“I first read ‘Alias Grace’ when I was 17 years old and throughout the last 20 years I have read it over and over, trying to get to the bottom of it,” Polley said. “Grace Marks, as captured by Margaret Atwood, is the most complex, riveting character I have ever read. I’m thrilled that Mary Harron has taken the project on. I know that her ability to create suspense, tension, and delve into the dark, unknowable aspects of her characters will bring this piece alive. I can;t wait for us to bring the many versions of Grace’s gripping story, and the questions they raise, to television audiences.”

Published in 1996, “Alias Grace” was awarded the Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Payback,” “The Robber Bride,” “The Sin Eater” and “Surfacing” are among Atwood’s other novels that have been adapted for film and TV. Kids’ CBC recently greenlit an animated series based on Atwood’s children’s book “The Wide World of Wandering Wenda.”

“Sarah Polley has done a brilliant adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel, which combines the richness of period drama with the tension and mystery of a modern day ‘Serial,'” Harron said. “It is an honour to be chosen to take this captivating story to the screen and to give new audiences the thrill of watching it unfold.”

Polley, Harron and Noreen Halpern will executive produce, while D.J. Carson co-produces.

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